Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.
“Oh God, who make us, the faithful, to be of one mind and will. Grant to thy people the grace to love without dost command and to desire without dost promise, that amidst the changes of the world, our hearts may be fixed where true joys are to be found.”
Words taken from the Collect for this fourth Sunday after Easter. We also heard from the Gospel, “But I tell you the truth. It is expedient to you that I go, for if I go not, the paraclete will not come to you.”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
In Proverbs, Solomon asks a question in the last chapter saying, “Who shall find a valiant woman?” Is this not a good question to be considering for Mother’s Day?Ultimately, who is the valiant woman Solomon is speaking of? Can she be found? Yes, she is the Church. And all valiant women, if they are to be truly valiant, have to be a part of her.Thus, the next line says “Far and from the utmost coasts is the price of her.”
The Church is Catholic, universal, offering the sacrifice to the utmost coasts, and the rising of the sun to the going down thereof as King David says in the Psalms. She is indeed the priceless Bride of Christ, for whom He died and rose again to love and to serve, and to bring her to be with Him in Heaven above. She is our mother and we are her children.
Now this passage and its following 21 verses complete and crown Solomon’s Proverbs. In a way, they summarize and perfect this book of the Bible. These very passages are used in the Holy Mass for widows. And St. Albert the great wrote a whole treatise on these passages calling it “The valiant woman,” stating, “Solomon praises the Church under the symbol of a valiant woman in 22 verses according to the number of the Hebrew letters.”
In the biblical Lamentations, Jeremias uses the same meter under a four-fold list of letters bewelling the burning of the temple and the loss of Jerusalem. St. Albert, thank you. Let’s focus with St. Albert on this poem, he speaks of the search for and the finding of a valiant woman, which search is a kind of test.” In these times, we know this valiant woman and we have found her. St. Albert teaches it is Holy Mother Church. And the completeness of the verses matching the A to Z of the Hebrew letters, indicates this woman is indeed perfect and complete.
As we’ve said, she is Catholic, she is of all space and time, and will not be overcome by anything from the beginning and even unto the consummation of the world. The gates of hell will not prevail against her. Have confidence dearly beloved. She is valiant and unconquerable. We have found her, but here’s the question; do we value her?
Christians of the first century said the world was created for the sake of the Church. The Church is the goal of all things. They valued her and they found the valiant woman. The 19th century Carmelite mystic, Blessed Francis Pulao, put it this way: “Having conceived the plan, God uttered one word. And that word was the building of His church in the course of the centuries.” In another place, he adds, “All things are willed or permitted by God, for the good of the church.”
All things are willed or permitted by God for the good of the Church. So whatever is happening now, we can say, for some reason, that this is for the good of the church. It’s revealing things, it’s testing things, and it will purify things.
It will separate the wheat from the chaff and the cockle. Blessed Francis Pulao goes on, “The holy triumphant Church is the end, to whose glory everything and the entire universe are created. She is the mistress of the universe. All creatures serve her and apart from her, there is no salvation, no life, no happiness, but only restlessness, discontent and eternal torment.” No wonder then St. John of the Cross says, “The cosmos is a palace for the bride, that is the Church. Have confidence, Dearly Beloved. We are in the right place.
Now I’m reminded of an incident in the life of St. Athanasius. While he was in the Cathedral of Alexandria chanting Vespers, he was surrounded by his enemies outside. They were always trying to get Saint Athanasius because they knew that if they captured him, they would stop the Church in Egypt. Egypt was coming back to take over through arianism.
Well, he was warned, but he kept on praying. The Psalm at that moment was 135. Now this song has two parts; that of the Creator and His creation, and then that of God delivering His chosen people from Egypt. Some of the verses, “Praise the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever. Praise ye, the God of God’s, for His mercy endureth forever. Praise ye the Lord of Lords, for His mercy endureth forever.” So three praises for God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. “Who alone doth great wonders, for His mercy endureth forever. Who established the earth above the waters, for His mercy endureth forever.” But a few verses later it shifts and goes to Egypt, “Who smote Egypt with their firstborn, first his mercy endureth forever. Who brought out Israel from among them, for His mercy endureth forever. Who divided the Red Sea and departs, for His mercy endureth forever. And brought out Israel through the midst thereof, for His mercy endureth forever. And overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for His mercy endureth forever,” and on it goes. God is omnipotent; He is the Creator. He made this valiant woman, and he will indeed rescue her and all her faithful children, even as the devil and all his minions combined plot our demise with great craftiness, for His mercy endureth forever.
Elsewhere, the Psalms King David speaks of not falling prey to fear even though we be surrounded by thousands. Another point of interest is how many have gained much from this Divine time out, if we may call it that. People are reflecting upon and thinking through things; things they would not normally have thought through. Reflections they would not normally have easily accomplished. Under normal circumstances. Why? Because we have too many distractions. It’s a very distracting world we live in. We are in an information overload most of the time. Many are coming to some good conclusions. I’ve talked to some of these people an I’m amazed. Or it seems to me at least to be so. They’re learning to see through the manipulations of the media regardless of who is speaking. They’re valuing their Faith, their families, their Church, they’re realizing that kneeling down before a screen is not going to cut it. They want to come home and sit in the pew and not be distracted by all the movements these various livestream Masses have as well. You have to think about that when you come to Church; you sit in one spot; You don’t go around the Church looking for a spot that gives you the best view, you don’t be picky. How’s that going to increase my devotion? What a bunch of nonsense we’re undergoing.
Now we’re starting to value what really counts; our faith and our families. Our priorities, the important things of life are being reconsidered. Not all is bad, dear listener, in this Divine Interdict, this pandemic. Let’s cooperate with God to bring good out of evil. As our Lord said, “It is expedient to you that I go, for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you.” Maybe God is going to send us something greater if we endure this for love of Him.
Now, this brings us back to the valiant woman described by Solomon in the Proverbs. I haven’t forgotten our main theme today. There’s one line in particular that seems most fitting to us at this time. “She had considered a field and bought it with the fruit of her hands, she hath planted a vineyard. Turning to St. Albert the great, we learn about the various meanings of fields throughout the scriptures. It has six in all meanings, and he ends with this one: “The field of desire of the Heavenly kingdom spoken of in Matthew, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hidden in a field which a man having found hid it and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he had and buyeth that field.” St. Gregory the Great says, “The treasure stands for desire of heaven, hidden in the heart, which when a man finds, he counts all else is nothing until he can buy that field.” We’re wayfarers. We have not bought the field yet.
But it’s hidden in our hearts. Of this, St. Albert says “The Song of Songs says, ‘Come my beloved, let us go forth into the field, that is to seek the treasure. That is abide in the villages,’ the song says, ‘that is the dwellings of the angels, where we desire to enter.'” Thank you, St. Albert. Then St. Albert makes an important point regarding the pricing of this field. He says, “Some buyers estimate the value of this kingdom of heaven at less than it is worth.” Whence Genesis says of Cain, “If thou do well, shalt thou not receive? But if ill, shall not send forthwith be present at the door? For he duly offers whoever it is that’s offering, who returns a creature to the Creator, but badly, like Cain, devise who devotes what is better to concupiscence but what is less good to God?”
And that’s what Cain did. Hence, Molokai as he says, “Cursed is the deceitful man that have in his flock a male and making a vow, offer it and sacrifice that which is feeble to the Lord. I’ll give the Lord the sick lamb, not the healthy one. This applies to those who buy works that are themselves good, wish to buy eternal beatitude, yet nevertheless remain in sin. Thus it is indeed clear,” says St. Albert, “they have not calculated correctly. They’ve not understood this worth.” Thank you St. Albert. Then St. Albert discusses the real price, mentioning by name, a pure clean heart, study, meditation, responding to grace, the virtue of obedience, and finally devotion and piety. Have we valued the field purchased by the valiant woman? Are we willing to be valiant ourselves and paying the price necessary to own His treasures? This is what a saint’s life is all about; seeing how much they value the field, and what they were willing to pay for it in order to enjoy the treasure.
Are we reading the Lives of the Saints? We’re currently listening to St. Catherine of Sienna by Sigrid Undset, and it’s available online. You can listen to it as a family, it’s fantastic. It’s definitely a book you want to revisit. Are we listening or reading the Lives of the Saints? To see what it is and what it’s worth? A retreat master once said to us, “Cheer up. It’ll all be over soon. Is it not true that things pass? And we are surprised to be in a place in which to look back and see where we were? Time passes, I never would have thought I’d make it to 2020. And here we are.” We’re able to look back with clear vision in some cases.
Someday we will die, and then the world will end. And we will be given in the general judgment of view of how things worked out. One of the fascinating things to contemplate about the future reality of that day is how thankful we will be then. We will be thankful then at what occurred in our life now to help us get there. As our Lord said, “It is expedient for you that I leave. Someday you will see why.” It’s expedient that we endure this child; someday we will see why. And those things that helped us are not just good things that we’re going to look back and see. What helped me get here is the Holy Mass. What helped me get here was the Sacraments, the Rosary, prayer, study meditation, but they will also include the trials and tribulations we had to endure to buy the field, because it was worth it.
When the angel finally spoke to Job after his most difficult trial, Job was sorry for all he had complained about in the trials. We will thank God for them, these trials and tribulations at that time. Even for this present one, we will be thankful since it gave us a chance to take time to rethink and reorder things. I highly doubt things will ever go back to the way they were. I don’t know what’s in store for us, but if we cooperate with God, He will bring all things to the good for those who love Him. Let us then do now what we would be grateful for then while recalling that we are members of the valiant woman, and we should want to be even more faithful to her.
Turn again again to Blessed Francis Palau. He said, “During the last days of her life, the Seraphic mother, Saint Teresa of Jesus, at last exclaimed with great confidence, ‘I am a daughter of the church.’ And this tender and sweet mother opened her arms, received into her bosom a daughter who had been faithful during this miserable life. In this embrace, the human Seraphim found her eternal repose that she now enjoys in heaven.”
How sweet, how pleasant, how delightful must be the repose in a virgin mother’s arms and how pure is the triumphant Church after the horrible agitations, disorder, and convulgence of this present life. Think it well wayfaring and pilgrim man on earth. Do not escape from the church. Do not avoid her presence. Believe what this loving and sweet mother tells you. Put your hope in her, love her, and find in her bosom the happiness that you seek. There is no salvation without her. There is no salvation without her. Outside her arms, you will find frightening convulsions and horrible torments that last eternally. Today, then, let’s conclude by thanking and honoring our mothers, those valiant women who gave us birth and rebirth in the waters of baptism, thereby making us members of the valiant woman, Holy Mother the Church. If all mothers or any mother is to be truly valiant, she needs to be a member of this valiant woman.
In the name of the Father and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.